Judith K. St. Ores
St. Mary’s University of Minnesota
Academic Writing – CM330A
Dr. Capper Nichols
Research Paper on Drowning Ruth
Christina Schultz was born in 1962 and grew up in Wisconsin near Pewaukee Lake in the southeast part of the state. Her father’s side of the family had lived there for generations. Her parents lived in a home originally constructed as a boat-house. The boat-house where she lived with her parents was located on her great-grandfather’s summer home on Lake Pewaukee. When Christina was ten, they moved three miles away to a home her parents built on farmland purchased from Christina’s Great-Aunt (BookBrowseLLC, 2010). The only college she applied for was Yale University, where she was accepte. If she had not been accepted to Yale, her back-up plan was to attend the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She met her husband, Benjamin Schwarz, at Yale and they were married in 1986. She spent an extra year at Yale in order to earn her Master’s degree in English, then taught 11th and 12th grade English at a private school in Washington, D.C.
Her husband was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Oxford, so Christina and Benjamin moved to England. When Benjamin received a Fellowship to do graduate work at Yale they moved back to Connecticut. During this time Christina did editing jobs and completed her Master’s thesis on World War I poets. It was during this time she began writing Drowning Ruth (2000).
Ben was hired by Rand Corporation located in Los Angeles, California, so the couple moved there. Christina taught 10th, 11th and 12th grade English at a private school in Los Angeles. During this time she also worked on her novel, but the demands of teaching left little time for writing. With Benjamin’s urging she quit her teaching job and worked at odd jobs , substitute teaching, tutoring and editing, which allowed her to spend time working on her novel. The couple moved to Manhattan for Benjamin’s work, where she finished the first half of her novel. They moved again, back to Los Angeles where she finished the second half of her novel.
Her first novel, Drowning Ruth was published in 2000. In September of 2000 it was selected for Oprah’s book club and named a New York Times best seller. Because of these awards she gained national attention as an author (Publishers Weekly, 2000).
Drowning Ruth is told in the voices of several of its main characters, while elapsing back and forth in time.
The events in Drowning Ruth take place as World War I has just ended and Amanda Starkey has become sick with a strange illness. She works at a hospital in Milwaukee where she cares for wounded soldiers, and goes home to her family farm to recuperate. Her sister, Mattie and niece, Ruth now live on the farm, and happily welcome Amanda home. Several months later Mattie drowns in the lake next to their farm. Only Amanda knows how her sister drowned, but keeps it a secret.As Amanda grieves over the loss of her sister, she takes on the care of Ruth. Soon Mattie’s husband, Carl arrives home from the war with injuries. Together, Amanda and Carl try to raise Ruth and take care of the farm.
The story follows Ruth as she grows older and eventually into a young woman. Imogene Lindgren is Ruth’s best friend, but unknown to either of them, also her cousin. The secret identities of Imogene’s parents are known only to Amanda. The strength of the secrets Amanda holds is tested when Imogene works as a secretary for the Owens’s, and plans to marry Arthur Owens. Amanda knows she must reveal the secret that Clement Owens is Imogene’s father, making her and Arthur siblings. Amanda reveals to Cement that he is Imogene’s father, but he dies of a heart attack before he can talk with Arthur. Amanda is once again left with the problem of figuring out how to stop the marriage between Imogene and Arthur. Amanda recruits Ruth to write a letter impersonating Arthur, telling that he is...